tom new­bury shares his work­flow for light­ing in Maya and demon­strates how in­ter­est­ing light­ing can add nar­ra­tive to your image


01 Dome light When I be­gin light­ing a scene I will ei­ther start with a key light, or a dome light, also known as an IBL or HDRI light. In this case I use a Red­shift Dome Light be­cause I want to use it to help set the mood. I gen­er­ally keep the in­ten­sity of this light sub­tle be­cause I want to con­trol the over­all light­ing with my area lights. Make sure to keep your ren­der set­tings at a lower qual­ity be­cause we just need to quickly see the broad strokes of the lights as we add them to the scene. 02 Adding a key light Next step will be to add a key light. I nor­mally just cre­ate a sin­gle Red­shift Phys­i­cal Light, (more com­monly known as an area light) and move it around while I ren­der in Pro­gres­sive Ren­der­ing Mode, (also known as IPR mode). A great tip for be­gin­ners is to se­lect the light then go to the View­port Tool­bar and se­lect Panels>view Through Se­lected. This will help you to achieve the ex­act an­gle you want with ease. 03 Key light ad­just­ment Af­ter play­ing with a sin­gle key light for a few min­utes, test­ing dif­fer­ent an­gles, I re­alised a top down light worked best for the look I was go­ing for. I ended up du­pli­cat­ing an ar­ray of lights as if the char­ac­ters were in a ster­ile en­vi­ron­ment with flu­o­res­cent lights above them. I just made sure to du­pli­cate enough to cover all of the char­ac­ters. 04 Fill light The fill light is pri­mar­ily used to fill out the light­ing on a char­ac­ter in an area where it may be lack­ing. Tra­di­tion­ally the fill light will be sub­tle, but in this case I wanted to add some drama to the scene. 05 Rim light In this case my fill light is dou­bling as a rim light; I gen­er­ally use a rim light to frame the char­ac­ter from one side. I find a broad scale light works best for this. I also added some sat­u­rated colour to add a sci-fi feel to it. Maybe some­one is us­ing a welder while they build these su­per sol­diers; adding story to your light­ing can make your scene more in­ter­est­ing.

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